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Next Brown Bag

Mon, Jan 22, 2018, noon: Narayan Sastry

PhD in Demography & Population Studies,
Doctoral Training Program

Overview

The Population Studies Center (PSC) is a research and training center within the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Although the Center is not a degree-granting unit, it provides apprenticeship training and fellowship support to PhD students in sociology, economics, public health (Health Behavior and Health Education), and anthropology. Predoctoral trainees complete all of the regular requirements for a PhD, supplementing the regular graduate program with specialized training in demography. Fellowships for PhD students are provided by training grants to the Center from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Fellowships from NICHD and NIA are restricted to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Students often receive support from a variety of additional sources, including University of Michigan fellowships, departmental teaching fellowships, and national and international agencies. The Center welcomes international students, however only a very few fellowships are available for them and competition is very keen. Some of our international students are able to secure fellowships directly from their governments, private foundations, and other sources. Sociology and public health students receiving Center support are typically awarded fellowships from PSC at the time they are admitted to the graduate program. Economics and anthropology students usually receive support after the first or second year of their PhD program.

To be eligible for Center training, students must apply to the relevant University department and indicate their desire for financial support from the Population Studies Center. Students are normally admitted to graduate departments only in the fall term; however application deadlines vary by department. Detailed information is available in the application procedures section.

Center trainees who have received PhD degrees are employed at a variety of institutions. About half of these graduates currently hold appointments at U.S. and international colleges and universities, while others are employed in research for government agencies and population organizations such as the United Nations, the Population Council, the Urban Institute, and the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Private businesses increasingly recognize the importance of demographic research and training, and a number of former students are engaged in analysis in the private sector.

Graduate Training

The training programs in social demography, economic demography, public health, and anthropological demography share a common philosophy and structure. Their goal is to produce social scientists, fully trained in their disciplines, who have broad knowledge in population studies, strong skills in statistical and demographic techniques, and the ability to undertake independent research on a range of population topics. A key component of the Center's graduate training is an apprenticeship program in which students gain practical research experience under the supervision of a PSC researcher. This apprenticeship involves 12 hours of work per week into the third year of residence at the Center. Apprenticeship assignments are based on the student's interests and previous experience. Typically, students begin by working on one of their supervisor's ongoing projects -- performing calculations, using computerized statistical packages, making data tables, doing bibliographic searches, abstracting articles, etc. With experience, trainees usually take on a larger role in the project's design and execution, or they may create a special project of mutual interest to themselves and their supervisor with the expectation of a joint publication.

This apprenticeship is supplemented by a variety of other activities at the Center. For example, trainees attend weekly "brown bag" seminars at which researchers from relevant fields discuss their work, as well as other seminars at the University such as the Economic Demography and Labor Seminar in the Department of Economics, and seminars on the demography of aging. A bimonthly Student Research Forum gives students the opportunity to discuss their research topics, present their dissertation prospectus ideas or work in progress, and practice formal presentation of conference papers or job talks. In a series of one-hour noncredit training sessions, first-year students learn basic computer techniques and are given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Center's Data Archive of tapes and programs and their application to problems of population analysis.

The University's doctoral programs in sociology and economics require substantial training in quantitative research methods. In economics, formal training in econometrics and mathematical economics is required. The sociology program requires courses in statistics and research methods. Both programs also require courses in theory and in fields of the chosen discipline other than population studies.

In addition to their regular coursework, Center trainees have the opportunity to take short summer courses offered by the University's Institute for Social Research, the Survey Research Center, and the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. These summer programs offer courses covering sampling, survey design, instrumentation, and advanced methods of statistical analysis, and have recently included courses geared to population specialists. Opportunities for internships at off-campus locations such as the International Labor Office in Geneva or the U.S. Bureau of the Census in Washington, D.C. for extended field work abroad are also available to Center trainees.

The Center subsidizes student attendance at the annual meetings of the Population Association of America. Students can also apply for funds to support international travel related to their research and purchase of materials such as data tapes related to their work.

Student Resources

Center Research Scientists and student trainees have office or workspace at the Population Studies Center, which allows them to share and collaborate on ideas, data sources, and techniques that facilitate training. The Center has two conference rooms and a lounge for meetings and informal get-togethers. Trainees also have access to valuable resources such as:

Computing Services.

Computing services at the Population Studies Center are provided by both the computing support unit of the Survey Research Center (SRC) at the Institute for Social Research as well by the University's Information Technology Services (ITS) unit. The Center uses a fully integrated network of Windows, Macintosh, and Linux PCs and workstations. Support is available for file and data storage, printing, web services, and e-mail services, provided by both SRC and ITS. End-user computing assistance is available for student and staff research projects.

Information Services.

  • Assist with the use of University Library resources and services.
  • Provide literature searching assistance with health and social science databases.
  • Help with hard-to-find materials and general information needs.
  • Assist with the use of citation management tools such as EndNote and Zotero.
  • Help NIH-funded trainees to comply with NIH publication reporting policy.

Data Services and IRB Support.

  • Restricted data access: Assist with acquisition, data protection plans, revisions, renewals, monitoring and general support.
  • Data archive: Assist with preserving project data, from local service to depositing files with ICPSR.
  • IRBs: Assist with confirming need for IRB and getting IRB approval for projects that collect data or use administrative or sensitive data.
  • Census support: Help with both tabular and microdata files from the Census Bureau.
  • Survey software: Support for use of Qualtrics.

Financial Support

The Population Studies Center awards fellowships to U.S. citizens and permanent residents as part of annual competitions in the Departments of Sociology, Economics, Health Behavior and Health Education, and Anthropology. Center trainees typically receive full tuition scholarships, health insurance, and stipends to cover living expenses. In most instances, traineeships are renewable for three years, contingent on satisfactory annual performance reviews. Other sources of financial support are also available, about which the Director of Training has information.

Application Procedures

Since the Departments of Sociology, Economics, Health Behavior and Health Education, and Anthropology grant graduate degrees, and the Population Studies Center does not, prospective Center trainees must apply to the relevant graduate department (addresses below). In completing the departmental application forms, applicants should indicate in the financial aid section that they are interested in a Population Studies Center Fellowship. They should also write to the Center's Director of Training (address below) to say that they are applying and wish to be considered for financial aid. With occasional exceptions, students begin their departmental programs in the fall term. Application deadlines, however, vary by department. Graduate Record Examination scores are required of all applicants; the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of all nonnative English speakers.

To obtain application forms, contact:

Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Sociology
3501 Literature, Science and Arts Building
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-1382
(phone: 734-647-4428)

Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Economics
Lorch Hall
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-1220
(phone: 734-764-2360)

Graduate Program Coordinator
Health Behavior and Health Education
School of Public Health
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2029
(phone: 734-763-9938)

Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Anthropology
1020 LS&A Building
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-1382
(phone: 734-764-647-6248)

Prospective students are encouraged to visit the Center and the University of Michigan campus; please contact the Training Program Administrator when making arrangements.